homeschooling community service

Wonderland BookSavers Brings 1,000 Books to Boston

Written by Madeline

Last December, we traveled to Boston, bringing with us 2,000 books which we donated to the Reach Out and Read program at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children.

Pictures from our December donation in Boston

Every time a child visits the hospital, they are able to choose a book to keep and bring home with them.

On August ninth, we trekked back up to Boston with another 1,000 books to replenish the bookshelves at the hospital. When we arrived, we were greeted by community partners Zoe Barry, the founder and CEO of ZappRx; Reach Out and Read coordinator Marika Michelangelo; Anne Carroll from Tufts Floating hospital; and hospital and Reach Out and Read interns.

We unloaded boxes of books from our cars, placed the boxes on dollies, and carted the dollies through the hospital and into the elevators.

When the metal elevator doors opened, we guided the dollies through the hallway, and unloaded some of the boxes into the closet where extra books are kept for the hospital to refill their shelves with. Next, we brought our books over to the same bookshelves we filled last December. Almost all of the 2,000 books we had brought 9 months ago had been selected and taken home by children.

We opened our boxes of books which had already been sorted into three levels: pre-school through third grade, fourth to sixth grade, and middle/high school. We then stocked the books on the shelves in those respective categories and order.

The hospital and Reach Out and Read personnel briefly interviewed and questioned us about our project, and after our discussing our charity, we thanked everyone and departed.

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After leaving the hospital, we went to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, which is the second presidential library we have visited as a team. We explored the museum and archives.boston9

Our excursion to John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Library concluded our trip to Boston, but we will look forward to bringing more books to Boston in the near future.

My Maine Summer Reading: The Sign of the Beaver, report by Reid

The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare, is one of many books that I read this summer. The first 3 chapters were not the greatest, but after that I could not stop reading. It took me one day to read this 130 page book and 1 hour to write this, I wrote everything myself without any help!

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The main character, Matt, was left alone, by his father, to guard the new log house they had built in the woods. Matt’s father had to bring back his sister and his mother and Matt had to stay and guard the log house because that was their only place to live. Matt is left with his father’s gun to use for protection and hunting. But a stranger came and Matt was nice and let him stay in the cabin, the stranger’s name was Ben. When Matt woke up Ben had stolen Matt’s gun. The loss of his gun meant that Matt had to begin figuring out how to take care of himself in the wilderness.

 

Hunger finally drives Matt to raid a bee’s nest in the hope of finding honey. Matt stuck his hand into the beehive and the bees swarmed. Matt ran and dove into a lake, trying to save himself. He got many stings, fainted and woke up to find two unusual people standing in front of him. He got a better look, and discovered they were Indians!

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Matt learns that the familiar looking stranger, Ben, could not be trusted, but the unfamiliar and frightening Indians save his life. Matt trusted the Indians and wanted them to help him. One of the Indians is a boy of the same age as Matt, Attean. Attean’s grandfather arranges for Attean to help Matt in exchange for teaching Attean to read. However, Attean is very disdainful of Matt, because Attean was forced to go to the reading lessons by his grandfather. Every day he had to bring Matt meat, or some honey or just something to help Matt survive. Attean also didn’t like Matt because Attean thought that white men were dumb and also were taking the Indian’s land. Matt wanted Attean to be friends with him, after a little while Matt’s wish came true!

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One day Matt and Attean are almost attacked by a bear. Together they manage to save themselves and kill the bear. Matt is surprised to see that Attean says a prayer to the soul of every animal that they hunt and kill for food, including the bear. Attean explains that he wants to tell God that he meant no harm, and the bear could have killed them, so they killed the bear.

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Matt longed to be able to do something that would help Attean. One day he got the chance. Attean has a beloved but mangy dog that can’t hunt or do anything but follow Attean around. Another tribe in the woods used metal traps to catch animals. Attean’s dog became trapped in one and Matt tried to save it. Matt tried to open the trap, but the dog didn’t really know Matt so it growled. Matt left and got Attean’s sister because Attean was hunting. Attean’s sister put a blanket over the dog and distracted the dog while Matt opened the trap. After that the dog loved Matt and Matt wondered if the dog actually had memory of Matt saving him. Through their experiences with one another, Matt and Attean became like brothers, even Attean’s grandmother and tribe began to accept Matt.

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I liked this book because it was about surviving in the wild and instead of just surviving in the wild Matt also made friends with the Indians. I really liked the end because I thought Matt’s father and his family would never come back but they did! Sadly the new baby died on the way, it only lived 5 days.

 

I learned many things from this book. If I get lost in the woods without anything but my clothes I would remember the things Attean taught Matt. For example, I could try to make a shelter, I could try to make a knife and hunt for food or I can find a pointy stick, go to a pond, and then try to catch a fish. I also learned to respect nature and the souls of animals. Attean believed that the animals could understand him when he spoke to them. Most importantly, I learned one must establish a relationship with someone before you can tell if you can trust him and if they are worthy of being your friend, or brother.

Wonderland BookSavers Donates 15,000 Books to Zimbabwe and Ghana

By Madeline

On Thursday June 9, Team Wonderland BookSavers donated 15,000 books which are currently headed to Zimbabwe and Ghana. Along with the books, we also donated over 100 letters written by the children at the Wetherbee School in Massachusetts. These letters will be going to children in Zimbabwe.

We methodically sorted the books based on whether they were primary or secondary reading level. Then, we packed the sorted books into labeled boxes.

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Our community partner Mark Grashow, the president and co-founder of US Africa Children’s Fellowship, came with a tractor-trailer for us to fill with our books which will be delivered to Africa. When Mark arrived, we began loading our books into his truck.

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We carefully arranged the boxes to maximize the space and to ensure that the boxes were secure so the books would be safe.

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After we finished laboriously transporting the heavy boxes of books from our palettes in the garage into Mark’s truck, Mark pulled out some pictures from his trips to Africa. He showed us children holding our books, and also recounted some stories of the children’s excitement when they receive our books.

I had the chance to interview Mark:

We are excited for our books to arrive in Zimbabwe and Ghana, and we can’t wait to see pictures and hear more stories about the children receiving our books!

 

 

Wonderland BookSavers’ Haitian-Creole Books Arrived in Haiti on May 17

By Madeline

Early last fall, we met with our community partner Susy Whitcomb, President of Haitian Educational Initiatives. Susy brought us pictures and videos of the kids at their school with our books. We had previously donated many French books to Haiti, but upon meeting with Susy, we discovered that the children in Haiti speak Haitian-Creole–not French–as their first language.

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A Haitian child with one of our donated French books

The French books were helpful, but before the Haitian children could learn to read, they would have to learn French, a foreign language. Team Wonderland BookSavers decided that we wanted to get the Haitian children Haitian-Creole books so they could finally have books written in their native language.

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Haitian-Creole books

After collaborating with our community partner Zoe Barry, the founder and CEO of ZappRx, we were able to obtain funds to purchase $1,099 worth of Haitian-Creole books. Since Zoe was so generous in giving us the funds to purchase the Haitian-Creole books, we along with the ZappRx team donated 2,000 books to the Reach Out and Read program at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston.

Throughout this project, we have united American children with Haitian children through our “poster pals” program. Poster pals are essentially pen pals, except we exchange and create banners with notes and drawings instead of just letters.

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Kids work on one of the poster pals we sent to Haiti

Wonderland BookSavers held a community event at the Barnum School where we helped the kids decorate a Sneetch machine after we read “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss. At that event, we read a Haitian-Creole book to the children at Barnum School, and let the kids create banners for the children in Haiti.

Soon, the children at Barnum School will get a poster pals banner from the children in Haiti. Our Haitian-Creole books and poster pals were scheduled to arrive in Haiti in February, but due to a political coup and violence in Haiti, our books and poster pals were delayed in being delivered until May. On May 17, the children in Haiti received the first books they have ever seen written in their native language, and posters and drawings from us and American children.

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children in Haiti holding our donated books

We are incredibly grateful to Susy Whitcomb and Zoe Barry for their assistance in this project. We are excited to see the children with their new books, and we are eagerly anticipating the poster pals which the Haitian children are sending back to America.

The Sneetch Event: From Our Local Library to Bridgeport to Haiti

By Madeline

Back in June 2015, Wonderland BookSavers donated 850 books to the Barnum School in Bridgeport, CT.

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Donating books to the Barnum School in June

We spoke with the librarian, Maureen D’Ascanio, and she told us about the kids’ interests. She explained the hardships children at Barnum School face in their daily lives. Many of the children live in dire conditions and do not receive much support from their parents. Reading, she explained, is critical for a child’s success in all subjects at school. A love and understanding of literature and reading must be instilled at a young age to broaden a child’s academic capabilities and success.

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A poster hanging from the ceiling at Barnum School’s Library

Dr. Seuss books are the favorite books of the younger kids at Barnum School. Dr. Seuss books are iconic and widely appreciated, making them less likely to be donated and given away. The books possess alluring creativity and an appealing rhyme scheme, making them very popular to younger readers. On the library shelves, we could see the prized pittance of Dr. Seuss books. Due to the demand and popularity of the Dr. Seuss books, children were not permitted to check those books out of the school library. So, we decided to raise money to purchase Dr. Seuss books for the kids at Barnum School.

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The Barnum School’s Dr. Seuss books before our donation

Wonderland BookSavers does not need money to operate. The only exceptions would be our annual bake sale at Pequot Library, Lemonade for Literacy, where we make lemonade and bake treats and use our earnings to purchase books for five dollars a box during the last day of the sale. The other exception is for our very recent project of purchasing $1,000 worth of Haitian-Creole books for the children we donate to in Haiti. The money was donated to us by our partner and sponsor, Zoe Barry, founder and CEO of ZappRx. In order to raise money, we decided to have a Dr. Seuss-themed fundraiser. We organized a community event at our local library, Pequot Library. We prepared materials and ideas, and sent out flyers to publicize the event. The library helped us to prepare. We took newspapers, and laid them across the floor. We then placed large refrigerator cardboard boxes on the newspaper. On a table, we set up paper bowls, an assortment of paintbrushes, and tempera paint.

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We set a fifteen-dollar admission rate for this event to raise money for Dr. Seuss books. When the children arrived, we ushered them to a blanket we had laid on the floor, and everyone sat down. The children’s librarian, Miss Susan, began story time. Before she began to read, Miss Susan handed out green stars to some people. During the story, when the Sneetches took their stars on and off, everyone would switch stars and take turns having stars and being starless. Everyone listened as she read The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss.

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Miss Susan with her star-bellied Sneetch stuffed animal

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Miss Susan begins to read The Sneetches and Other Stories

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Everyone listens to Miss Susan read The Sneetches and Other Stories

When she had finished reading, we asked the children what they thought the moral of the story was. Their consensus was that it didn’t matter if the Sneetches had stars or not, they were all the same. We discussed how this was actually a larger theme: you should not discriminate against others because of their looks.

 

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After reading and discussing the story, we explained the next portion of the event- building the Sneetch machine. Everyone began to paint the machine.paintingsneetchmachine

We took a smaller box, designated it as our tower, and painted it yellow. We painted the tunnel and main chamber of the machine red. With duct tape, we made streamers to cover the entrance of the tunnel. We made green stars, and while you were going through the machine, you could either put a star on, or take a star off. Once the paint had dried, we cut a large hole at one end of largest box. We placed a slide at the exit, and everyone took turns sliding out of the machine.

willsslidingoutofsneetchmachinekidcomingoutofsneetchmachineWe left our machine at the library for a few weeks, and eventually dismantled the machine before we brought it to the Barnum School, which is where the machine now resides.

About a month after our event at Pequot Library, we purchased Dr. Seuss books with the money we had made from our fundraiser, and headed to the Barnum school with decorating supplies, a large banner,some Haitian-Creole books to show the children, and the new Dr. Seuss books.

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Haitian-Creole Books

We showed the children their new Dr. Seuss books, and we then proceeded to hold our Sneetch-related activities.

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Emma and Brooks Morgan pose with the Dr. Seuss books we donated to the Barnum School

We spent the afternoon with three classes of first-graders as they had their library time. We did the same activities with all three groups. First, we would read The Sneetches and Other Stories, and discuss the morals.

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Next, we would read and show the children the Haitian-Creole books. After everyone had a chance to look at the Creole books, the kids got to decorate the Sneetch machine in shifts and write a few words and make drawings on the banner we sending to Haiti. But what they were most excited about by far was getting to go through the Sneetch machine.

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Everyone lines up to ride the Sneetch machine

The kids lined up, eagerly anticipating their turn to go through the machine. We handed everyone out toy money, like the money the Sneetches paid to go through the machines in the book, and they slipped the money into the admissions box and crawled through the tunnel, walked to the exit, and rode down the slide.

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Brooks and I (Madeline) making a tunnel as the children take turns sliding out of the machine

After repeating the activities with each class, we packed up our Creole books and rolled the enormous poster with the names, notes, and drawings of each first-grader scrawled inside. The Sneetch machine and has traveled from our local library to the Barnum School’s library. Our poster brimming with the drawings and messages from Connecticut children will be received by children in Haiti.

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Kids working on the poster

The Sneetches and Other Stories has made an impact in our community, at the Barnum school, and will soon make an impact in Haiti. Where will reading take you?

Time Butterflies When You’re Having Fun

By Claire

Today on this dreamy summer afternoon, after reading the book Wings of Light by Stephen R. Swinburne, Wonderland BookSavers teamed with junior members to create our very own butterflies.

After reading the book, our little siblings were captivated by the descriptive language and beautiful illustrations, all of which contributed to portraying the journey of the little yellow butterflies on their way from the rainforest up to Vermont. This inspired the WBS Junior members to make their own (rather messy) renditions of the art.


To make your own book-inspired butterflies, you will need:

  • Paper
  • Paint( we used blue, yellow and pink)
  • Containers or plates for the paint
  • Paint brushes
  • A surface that you don’t mind messing up( we used cardboard)
  • Glitter( optional)
  • And, most importantly, cute little hands that don’t mind getting messy!

First, paint your hand. Get creative!  We made stripes, hearts, polka dots and swirls using the paint and brushes. Little Wills even stamped his hand on the plate of paint without making a specific pattern. His butterfly turned out to be very abstract!


 Next, stamp your hand on one side of your paper. Be sure to press down hard and try not to move your hand too much, as this helps to keep the design clearer.

  
After stamping your first hand, you can either paint your other hand and stamp it as you did with your first hand, or you can fold the paper in half and press it down to make the same design on both wings. The Wonderland BookSavers experimented with both, and both methods turned out wonderfully.

Once you have completed both wings, use your fingers or the paint brush to make a head, body, and antennas for your little butterfly. To enhance the effect, sprinkle some glitter over your wet paint.

  
  Voila!  Your book-inspired butterflies are finished. Time Butterflies when you’re having fun!